Jake Harrell (Photo: Pastor Rod Loy)
MENA, Ark. (AFC) -
Search crews have worked through the day to find the location of missing AFC pilot, Jake Harrell. He was last heard from at a check-in point near Oden at 1:14 yesterday. Two planes today from the Air Service Patrol and a helicopter from the Arkansas National Guard assisted with large ground force units as they flushed out access routes and trails in the area.
Crews surveyed routes today based on Harrell's usual flight route between Oden and Wickes, which he had flown many times before. Those same areas will continue to be searched through the night. Search teams consist of two and three-person groups looking for any signs of Jake or the plane. All search efforts are organized through the Incident Command Post at Mena.
"We are going to be here until we find Jake. Tonight and tomorrow's efforts are already planned and we are aggressively covering as much ground as quickly and safely as possible," said State Forester, Joe Fox.
In depth strategy is in place for crews arriving this evening, tomorrow, and even Monday. Experts in search and rescue, aviation, and the Ouachita National Forest terrain are all included amid strategies. The predicted weather forecast is being closely monitored and search strategies will be tailored to safety precautions needed during icy weather.
The Incident Command structure in Mena continues as a Unified Command effort with the following partners involved: statewide Arkansas Forestry Commission crews, Polk and Montgomery County Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk, Montgomery, and Scott County, local volunteer fire departments, and the Civil Air Patrol.
Harrell's pastor, Rod Loy, shared an official statement:
"We are extremely grateful to all the dedicated people who are searching for Jake. We are praying for his protection and for him to be quickly found. Your prayers for him and his family are very much appreciated."
(Source: Arkansas Forestry Commission)